Remember how warm it was this summer and we could go paddle dressed like the paddlers in the pic on the left? It was awesome, and I miss it!! Here in VA Beach today it the temp topped out around 40 degrees, winds out of the North at 25 mph w/gusts to 40. The Chesapeake Bay water temperatures are in the 40s. Still possible to paddle for a kayaker with the right skills and gear, but the guy I saw paddling today was a classic accident waiting to happen. He was paddling a sit-on-top loaded w/fishing gear (nothing wrong with that) while wearing blue jeans and a cotton sweatshirt (really poor judgement) and not wearing a life jacket (really, really poor judgment). In the event of a swim, especially if he lost contact with his boat, (certainly possible on a windy day like today) that could have been his last paddle. It's probable that he got wet and cold quickly and was back in his truck with the heater running before he got too far, as the truck at the put-in was gone less than a half hour later.
It can be argued that rule number one for any outdoorsman should be 'Don't get cold!"
For paddlers that means put the cotton on 'after' the paddle. Cotton holds moisture, conducting your body hear away. Wear wicking fabrics, neoprene wetsuits, or even drysuits. Stay hydrated. Wear a hat. Carry dry clothing in a waterproof bag for yourself AND your paddling partner. Fill your thermos with some tea or soup before you head out. Just remember to "Do everything in your power to prevent hypothermia before it occurs." That quote is actually the first step on the link above about hypothermia.